Tuesday, 25 May 2021

The Great Apostasy

 باسمك اللهم

اللهم صلى على سيدنا محمد

There are a number of dissident Christian denominations which believe that there was a great apostasy in the early Church. This idea is markedly held to by the LDS or Mormon movement founded by the false prophet Joseph Smith. The JW movement likewise believe that a Great Apostasy took place shortly after the Apostolic Age, when pagan beliefs overtook Christendom, such as the Trinity doctrine.

The Christian New Testament certainly predicts the Great Apostasy. The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians is traditionally attributed to Paul of Tarsus, although modern scholars, like Bart Ehrman, question that authorship. Nevertheless, it contains this passage which says that there shall be an apostasy before the second coming of Jesus Christ: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

The King James Version translated the Greek word apostasia to mean “a falling away”, although clearly what is meant is an apostasy.

Islam likewise teaches that there was an apostasy among the professing followers of Jesus shortly after his death:

وَ کُنۡتُ عَلَیۡہِمۡ شَہِیۡدًا مَّا دُمۡتُ فِیۡہِمۡ ۚ فَلَمَّا تَوَفَّیۡتَنِیۡ کُنۡتَ اَنۡتَ الرَّقِیۡبَ عَلَیۡہِمۡ

And I was a witness over them as long as I remained among them, but since Thou didst cause me to die, Thou hast been the Watcher over them

(Surah 5:117)

The Ayah suggests that in Jesus’s own lifetime his disciples and followers hadn’t corrupted his Gospel – they did not worship him and his mother Mary, nor did they believe he was God incarnate. History bears witness to the fact that these heresies surfaced after the time of Jesus, when the foretold false teachers and prophets had risen among them, or entered into their flocks, and began teaching false doctrines. We believe that Paul of Tarsus was one such “wolf in sheep’s clothing” about whom Jesus had strongly warned against. Paul never met Jesus, but began persecuting his followers, the early Nazarenes, after Jesus’s death and spiritual ascension. He then claimed to have seen a vision of Jesus and have converted to the Faith, but introduced novel teachings that were in obvious contravention of the Gospel.

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